By Saranac Hale Spencer
Of the Legal Staff
President Obama has nominated Matthew Brann and Malachy Mannion for the two vacant seats on the bench in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Brann, a partner at Brann Williams Caldwell & Sheetz in Bradford County, is a former chairman of the county’s Republican committee and is a graduate of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law.
Mannion has been a magistrate judge in the Middle District since 2001 and, before that, was an assistant U.S. attorney there. For four years, he was in private practice as a principal at Hourigan, Kluger, Spohrer & Quinn in Scranton.
"Malachy Mannion has served the public as a U.S. attorney and as a federal magistrate judge, and I will push for a speedy confirmation process in the Senate. I have known Mal for years and he is an excellent lawyer whose integrity is beyond reproach," Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., D-Pa., said in a press release. "Matthew Brann, along with an impressive career in private practice, has demonstrated a commitment to the community that will make him an outstanding judge.”
"On a bipartisan basis, I have been working closely with Sen. Casey on judicial nominations for our state to help confirm qualified, experienced individuals with unquestioned honesty and integrity. I am confident that these two nominees will live up to these standards and hope that the Senate confirms them in a timely manner," Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said in a press release.
The seats became open upon A. Richard Caputo’s retirement in 2009, and Thomas Vanaskie’s elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2010.
The reinforcements, if confirmed, would restore the Middle District bench to full strength.
“We try not to dwell on it,” Yvette Kane, chief judge in the Middle District, said earlier this week of the four active judges who have been saddled with heavy caseloads in absence of a full complement on the bench.
The national average number of days from the announcement of a vacancy to the nomination to fill it is 399, according to Russell Wheeler, of the Brookings Institute. Wheeler has published several studies on the judicial nomination process and its politics.